As a parent, you should trust your instincts. If you sense something might be wrong, you’re probably right. Ignoring your gut feeling could lead to tragic consequences.
Timely diagnosis is key to treating eye cancer. When caught early, doctors can often remove the tumor and preserve sight. But waiting too long can lead to loss of an eye or even death.
A British mother learned the consequences of delayed diagnosis the hard way.
According to a Press Association story, Stephanie Beasley noticed something was wrong with her daughter’s eye when she was 9 months old:
“Ezmai had a lazy eye and we spoke to a health visitor and then took her to the pre-school vision team but they told me to come back in six months. I kept taking her but they couldn’t find anything wrong. My instincts told me there was something wrong with Ezmai but I felt no-one believed me and that I was going mad.”
Beasley said she took Ezmai to four different health care providers, but the child was not diagnosed with retinoblastoma until she was two. By then, the cancer had advanced to the point that surgeons had to remove her eye in order to save her life.
Beasley has now teamed up with the The Childhood Eye Cancer Trust in Great Britain to raise awareness of the importance of early diagnosis of retinoblastoma. According to the organization, 21% of children diagnosed with this rare form of cancer in 2015 experienced a delay of at least six months between their first visit to a general practitioner and examination by a specialist.
Symptoms of retinoblastoma include unusual squinting, changes in the color of the iris, and painless redness or inflammation of eye. White reflections in the eye will also sometimes show up in photos taken with a flash camera.
“We looked back at an old photo of Ezmai at Christmas in 2014 and we can see a white glow in her eye but at the time we had absolutely no idea this could mean she had cancer,” Beasley said.
The Eye Cancer Foundation offers a free-downloadable retinoblastoma poster and a program, and sponsors a program to teach fellows to become retinoblastoma specialists in unserved and underserved countries. Dr. Paul Finger said it is imperative to make medical professionals more aware of the symptoms.
“Clearly, early detection and prompt treatment of children with retinoblastoma is crucial for saving both their vision and life.”
If you notice any of unusual symptoms in your children, you should have them examined by a specialist as soon as possible. Trust your instincts and don’t allow doctors who are not trained in detecting eye cancer dissuade you from getting an examination by a specialist.
This is definitely a situation where you would rather be safe than sorry.